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Nov 062018
 

Anyone can show appreciation for military service – and there are many ways to do so besides saying “Thank you for your service.” Whether there’s a military family down the street, or your service member lives across the country, here are ten simple ways to actively support military families and show them their service and sacrifices are valued.

Written by: Lizann

Five easy ways to show appreciation for a military family that lives nearby:

  • Be neighborly. Sometimes military families live in one location for the service member’s entire career, but it’s very common for them to move a lot. Whether you think they will be neighbors for years or for a short time, try to get to know them. Introduce yourself, ask their names, offer to share a cup of sugar, etc. A little neighborly friendliness means a lot to military families who are used to being new in town.
  • Share local tips. If you have lived in the same town for more than a year, you may be a local expert compared to a brand-new military family. You know a good hairdresser, where to get the best deals, and where to find a fun restaurant. Share your wisdom with your new military neighbors. Ask them if they need recommendations for places to go or ways to save money in the community.
  • Lend a hand. Military families are typically strong and independent. Many hesitate to ask for help. But even if they are too proud to ask, almost every military family needs help sometimes, particularly while the service member is away. Offer to help in specific ways—mowing the grass, getting their mail while they travel, watching the kids during a doctor appointment, etc. If you offer something specific based on your own skills, your new neighbors will most likely be grateful and accept your kind offer.
  • Include military families. When planning neighborhood events, make sure to invite your military neighbors. Even if you don’t know them yet and aren’t sure they will be interested in neighborhood traditions, it never hurts to extend an invitation. Military families feel appreciated when they are included in the community.
  • Don’t judge. The military community is very diverse, in every way. Your military neighbors may be politically conservative or very liberal. They could have any religious background or perhaps none. They may have lived in communities all over the world or spent years living in a tiny military town. They may have several pets or none, lots of kids, or perhaps they are both working professionals. They may keep to themselves or be very outgoing. Try to get to know them before jumping to conclusions.

Five ways to show appreciation for distant military family members:

  • Connect on holidays. Distance doesn’t have to prevent you from celebrating holidays with your military loved ones! Include them in holiday celebrations via video calls. Send cards or care packages so they know you appreciate them.
  • Offer to visit. Service members and their families can’t always take time off to come home. There may be more flexibility for you to visit them instead of expecting them to travel to you. Suggest different options so you can see each other while respecting the demands of their military training schedule.
  • Send care packages. Everyone appreciates a care package from home. You can send special gifts and favorite foods from home – not just to deployed service members but to the family members, too. A care package can be the perfect way to recognize a birthday or anniversary, or just a thoughtful way to share love from home.
  • Send help. Everyone appreciates a little extra help now and then. When you live far from your service member, you may feel like there is nothing you can do to make their life easier. But you can help from afar by sending a meal delivery or assisting with a grocery delivery service. Ask them what else might be helpful: a lawn care service, help from a handyman, house cleaning service, etc. The smallest gesture of kindness can make a huge difference to a military family far from home.
  • Listen. Military life can be challenging. Occasionally, service members and spouses need to vent their frustrations and loneliness. When they do, be a supportive, listening ear. Don’t try to toughen them up by telling them “you signed up for this” or that you have your own struggles. Just try to listen and be supportive. That’s the best way to show appreciation for a military family.

It’s as easy as that, folks! Go forth and show your appreciation for military families and service members. Is there anything else you would add to this list? Share with us in the comments!

Finding the Right Counselor

 Posted by on October 23, 2018 at 10:33
Oct 232018
 

When seeking a counselor, it’s important to find one that understands you, and for military spouses, it is essential to have a counselor who is familiar with military life. The first time I worked up the nerve to seek professional counseling was during a deployment. My husband had been gone for a few months and I was struggling to manage our four kids, our household and a part-time job on my own. I needed a listening ear. I needed a safe place to vent. I needed someone to help me find a way through these struggles.

Written by: Lizann

A professional counselor can offer all those things… if they’re the right person. Unfortunately, during my first phone call, the counselor made the mistake of telling me to use “all that extra deployment money” to hire a maid. I was stunned. Too bad this was a non-combat deployment where my husband was making less money than usual.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of my counseling experience. I was able to request another counselor, along with a list of providers to call, so I could find one that was a better match. I ended up finding a professional counselor who was married to a retired Air Force pilot. Not only did she understand deployment stress, but she had numerous insights that pointed me in the right direction. Since then, I’ve learned that finding the right counselor may take some time, but it is worth the effort.

  1. Ask questions up front. When seeking a new counselor, which military spouses can find for free through Military OneSource, it’s good to ask them questions and explain your priorities. The more they know about you, the better they can support you through counseling. The more you know about them and their style, the more comfortable you will feel.
  2. Explain your situation. Outline the major challenges in your life right now, whether that is a deployment, health issue, family drama or just stress. What is the situation that you want to focus on with the counselor? Has anything changed recently?
  3. Share what you’ve already tried. Have you already been to a doctor? Talked to your parents? Seen another therapist? Are there resources you recently lost because of a PCS move or deployment? Let them know what you have already tried and whether anything helped. Then listen as they suggest new ideas.
  4. Ask about military experience. Military OneSource counselors are generally familiar with military families and clients. Some are former veterans or current military spouses. Talking to someone with military experience makes it more comfortable for you to explain military life challenges. They should also be familiar with military programs that may help you.
  5. Be honest. The more open you are about problems in your life, the more likely the counselor can help you work through them. They will need to understand how the problem is affecting you at home, at work and with your extended family. Your counselor may suggest unusual ideas or ask you to do something brave. Be honest about whether you feel able to follow through with their suggestions. If you don’t think something will help, tell them why.
  6. Make an action plan. A counselor may offer practical things you can do to change your current situation. You can treat it like homework or look at it as an opportunity to step forward. Write down what you are going to do next, along with a reasonable date to accomplish the task. “Within the next week, I will make that phone call. By the end of the month, I will do this activity.” Having specific short-term goals should help you take baby steps towards conquering your current challenges.
  7. Decide if you want to keep this counselor. There are many professional counselors in the world. And now that many can “meet” via phone call or video call, you aren’t limited to counselors in your geographic area. If the counselor doesn’t feel like a good match for you, contact Military OneSource or TRICARE to get a list of approved free counselors. You can call and choose anyone on the list, and even request a second list if you exhaust the first one.
  8. Schedule the next appointment. If you don’t set up the next appointment, it may never get crossed off your to-do list. Tell the counselor when you would like to talk again. Would you like to meet weekly or monthly?

Counseling can be an incredibly helpful process if you take the time to find the right person. If you take these steps before and during your first session, it will give you a good idea what to expect in future meetings, and you will get the most out of free counseling. Do you have a personal experience to share?

Military OneSource offers free non-medical counseling to service members and immediate family. Best of all, the service is confidential, and the counselors know military life, so they understand the challenges you’re facing. To learn more about non-medical counseling, check out this article.

Loving Every Day

 Posted by on October 15, 2018 at 15:04
Oct 152018
 

To really understand our relationship, you need to know that my husband is a Marine Corps pilot. Confidence comes naturally to most pilots — they must be sure of themselves in the plane, and that often translates to daily life. In fact, since the day we met, my husband and I have had a running agree-to-disagree understanding. He says he’s confident; I say he’s cocky. After 10 years we can still correct each other, roll our eyes and smile at this.

Kristi

So, as any sassy woman would, I try to keep him grounded. (That’s a little pilot humor for you.) I don’t spend much time fluffing his ego. We communicate mostly with quips, one-liners, sarcasm, the occasional cheesy joke, fact-based statements and venting to each other about whatever the headache of the day was. Even though that’s how we’ve operated for 10 years, I know I should probably be better about saying the mushy stuff more often. I’ve gotten better (I think) about saying things like, “You’re such a good dad,” “You’re my favorite person” or “I’m so proud of you.” But it’s out of my comfort zone to spout off deep stuff.

I’d heard of Military OneSource’s Love Every Day program but honestly never gave it a second look until I needed to try it for this blog post — how very “investigative journalist” of me. It’s a 21-day program aimed at improving communication between couples. You don’t need to be married, and it doesn’t cost a cent. You just fill out some information, and you’re in. The only catch is that you both have to register and confirm the registration to get started.

So, I briefed my husband on my assignment and that I needed his participation to make it work. Not really knowing what this whole program entailed, I gave him my best guess when he asked reluctantly what he had to do. I told him we were going to get daily texts to remind us to say nice things to each other. His response was: “Why do we need an app for that? I can just set an alarm on my phone.”

I had to admit that he had a point there. But, because he’s a good sport, and I’ve spent 10 years supporting his career, he went along with it. He owed me one, right? For roughly a week we got nowhere because one of us — maybe both of us — never accepted the invitation to join. I would get a daily text, and I would try to log in through the link I was sent, but I always received a “Tick tock — still waiting on your partner to join” message.

With my deadline looming and my husband now on a different continent, I bugged him again. “Did you get a text for Love Every Day?”

His text in response: “I hate passwords.” So, that’s a yes.

Somehow though — my best guess is that he finished setting up his account — we were both in.

I’ll be quite honest, getting two people set up was a little tricky, but once we were in, the questions were really good! It wasn’t at all the cheesy romantic stuff I had built up in my brain. Quite the opposite — many of the questions or tasks did a solid job of finding favorite memories or qualities of my husband or our relationship that I love but keep to myself. Love Every Day drew them out so that we could talk about them. For example, like most couples we’ve told the story of how we met — oh, I don’t know — about three million times. But, one of the Love Every Day questions was “What do you remember most about the first time you met your partner?” That is a memory I don’t vocalize when I tell the story, not even to him. But, now we’ve talked about it and the conversation added some depth to our story.

I also appreciated things that seemed to have no trace of cheesy romance. Questions like, “What is the best thing about your day today?” gave us a break from nightly venting session. Sharing our complaints and frustrations is important for our own mental health, but sometimes we get focused on that and forget to share the good stuff.

All in all, I’m happy that we did the Love Every Day challenge. (That’s not the official name, but competitive people like us respond best to challenges.) I see some complications if you’re trying to do the challenge during a deployment or detachment (as was our situation), but it would probably be perfect for pre- or post-deployment. For the days we missed because he was out flying and didn’t respond in time or I was busy trying to do all the things here back home, I took a screen shot of the daily question, so we have a reel of conversation starters to choose from that are deeper than the usual, “How did your day go?” Because it’s too easy to answer that with a “fine” or, in my husband’s case, a whole bunch of pilot jargon that flies over my head, (That’s the last pilot pun, I swear — I’m done.)

What do you think, would you and your partner try the Love Every Day program?

PCS-Proofing Your Marriage

 Posted by on August 6, 2018 at 09:21
Aug 062018
 

If you ask a military couple how they survived a PCS move, you will probably get answers like, “Lots of wine, an emergency chocolate stash and a great sense of humor.” Or they may just look at each other and shrug because they are still barely on speaking terms.

In all seriousness, a PCS move is no laughing matter. Moving your family and belongings to another state or country can be hard on everyone and may be particularly demanding on your marriage. Couples may find themselves disagreeing about how to move, what to move and the logistics of moving to the new location. Stress, lack of sleep and disrupted routines can lead to arguments. Once they arrive at the new assignment, couples may struggle to support each other without any local friends to lean on. Sound familiar? If you and your spouse are facing a PCS, here are some ways to get through the move with your relationship intact.

  • Remember that you are on the same team. A move can put you and your spouse at odds on a variety of decisions. Even couples who typically agree completely may find themselves in disagreements when moving to a new location. The good news is that a few PCS arguments do not mean your marriage is falling apart or that your spouse no longer loves you. Instead of approaching PCS decisions like a battle you are trying to “win,” approach it as a team project.
  • Divide and conquer. Try not to compare who is doing more or whose job is more stressful. Instead, discuss which tasks are still on the to-do list and who can accomplish them most efficiently.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you are sorting through and moving everything you own, there are bound to be discussions about how you ended up with so many things. Try not to hold on too tightly to items that can be easily replaced. The same is true for those dusty items in the garage that haven’t been touched in over a year. Ultimately, it’s all just stuff, and most things can be sold, donated or replaced.
  • Discuss your priorities. Couples with a strong relationship will almost always cite “communication” as the key to a happy marriage. But communication can be challenging during a short-notice PCS or when the service member is away. Try to be honest with your partner about your priorities and concerns during the move, but don’t be surprised to discover that their main focus is different from yours. Instead of bottling up all your emotions, find non-confrontational ways to vent your frustration. This may mean reaching out to friends, family or a counselor for support. Military OneSource provides free, confidential counseling to service members and/or spouses.
  • Try to keep it fun! Sure, moving can be frustrating and stressful, but it can also be an adventure. Whether you are sleeping on the floor, squeezing the dogs into a hotel room, or camping out under the stars, focus on the unique memories you are making with your spouse. The more you can laugh together, the better you will be able to face the craziness of a PCS move.
  • Plan date nights before the move. A PCS move can easily distract you and your spouse for months. Try to plan a few simple date nights where you can agree not to discuss moving details and focus on reconnecting with each other. These experiences don’t have to be expensive—just a few hours together enjoying a movie, a picnic or a walk on the beach can do wonders to refresh your marriage.

When PCS stress starts to put distance between you and your spouse, remember that your marriage will outlast the move. After all, you vowed to be together “in good times and bad” and the good times will always outweigh the hard times.

MilSpouse Down!

 Posted by on July 24, 2018 at 09:58
Jul 242018
 

Ahh, the unpredictability of life! Things can change in an instant, for better or for worse. Most of the time we can roll with it and just keep on keeping on. Sometimes, however, we need help.

Kelly

Recently, I was handed some lemons of my own. I was draining pasta and burned myself – a severe second degree burn on my abdomen. As soon as it happened I knew I needed help, but I didn’t panic. In times like this when I’m unable to maintain the status quo, I call in my pinch hitters – my fellow MilSpouses – and together, we figure it out.

The beauty of military life is that we have an entire community surrounding and supporting us when we need help. We don’t live on base, but we live in a neighborhood full of military families and I am fortunate enough to work with some military wives. This community of people helped me get my classes covered, change my bandages…and most importantly, keep my chin up and move forward.

When one of us is going through something, our fellow military spouses always seem to be there and are willing to lend a helping hand. What I think is particularly beautiful about this camaraderie, from my experience, is that it doesn’t know any limits.  It doesn’t matter the branch or assignment – MilSpouses and MilFamilies respond to the call – even for people we don’t necessarily know. We’re a tribe, a community. One I am very grateful for.

I’ve been working really hard on practicing gratitude, and this situation gave me a lot of material to work with. Who are the people in your tribe that you can always go to when you need them? Can you recall an event when they came running, maybe without you even asking? I encourage you to take some time to reflect on this – it’s so special and worth appreciating. The next time you have the capacity to help a fellow MilSpouse, do it with an open heart. Someday, it will be their turn to be there for you.

Jul 102018
 

Once again, it’s PCS season — a time when thousands of military families find themselves as temporary nomads, moving from one duty station to the next. Some drive, others fly. We pack up kids, dogs, cats and all our furniture. We sleep in hotels, RVs, friends’ houses and sometimes in tents at campsites. But no matter how we choose to PCS, there are some experiences that will be the same with every move.

Lizann

During my husband’s military career, we have completed most types of PCS moves. We have moved cross-country and overseas, do-it-yourself moves and moves with children in tow. With each experience, we’ve learned a lot and made plenty of mistakes. All these learning experiences helped me become the seasoned spouse that I am today. Now I’m able to share our moving tips with you. Here is some advice that rings true no matter what type of move your family is going through.

  1. Start early. You can begin months ahead of time to prepare for a big move. It’s true that you can’t do anything official without hard copy orders. But even before you have them, you can think ahead about what you need to get rid of in your house. Clean out and get rid of old clothes, toys and furniture. Either donate it or host a yard sale. If this is your first move, you should attend a PCS class on your base that will walk you through the steps of a government move or speak with your relocation assistance point of contact at the Military and Family Support Center. Don’t forget about your budget for the move. You’ll want to start saving money and to cover household expenses and non-refunded moving expenses.
  2. Get organized. Moving can be hectic, but don’t let the responsibilities overwhelm you. Make lists and create a schedule to spread out tasks so you won’t be rushing during the final week. Your Relocation Assistance Program specialists can help you with this. You can talk to them about your moving location and date and they will help you plan out everything—from job and house hunting, to government paperwork, to deciding how to move your POV (your vehicle). They can help you locate and think through checklists of travel plans, items to hand-carry and official paperwork the service member needs to complete. It takes the guesswork out of a PCS move and helps you stay on track.
  3. Do your research. You can learn a lot about a new base before you move. Look into housing options to see if there is a waiting list and how to get on it. Know the school options for your kids. Look for jobs for yourself and start making professional connections in the area. All this can happen before the move. MilitaryINSTALLATIONS will show you what is available at your new duty station and connect you to their website, so you can easily find numbers for important offices like base housing and the base school. The more you learn ahead of time, the better you can prepare your family for the move. Also, if you have little ones and need child care, don’t forget to register by visiting MilitaryChildCare.com
  4. Work together. The whole family moves, so things will be less stressful when the whole family works as a team. Make time to talk to your kids and answer their questions about the move. Find ways to take breaks or make the moving process fun. Let older kids be involved in some of the planning and decision-making. Communicate with your spouse so you are working together, not against each other.
  5. Ask for help. Ask friends to help you pack and move if you are doing things yourself. Accept offers from neighbors to watch your kids or share a hot meal. Borrow bedding or sleeping bags for the last night when you are sleeping on the floor of your house. When you are planning your PCS trip, consider staying with friends or family along the way to save money.

Whether you are moving within the same state or relocating overseas, any military family can follow these moving tips to have a smooth PCS experience. Share your tips with us!

The Seasoned MilSpouse

 Posted by on May 14, 2018 at 16:17
May 142018
 

In the many years I’ve been a MilSpouse blogger, I’ve always felt new in some way. I began as the newbie spouse — the spouse coping with her first deployment. Then I was the new mom. Before I knew it, I was the new spouse, new mom, newly reunited and planning her first PCS. Most recently, I embarked on my first OCONUS PCS. See? Still shiny and new.

Kristi

But something weird happened around my spouse’s tenth year of military service. I seemed to have passed an invisible line that separates the new and the ol— err — seasoned. I don’t mind the title, it just hadn’t dawned on me that I was one until this year.

The fast-paced military life has a way of distorting time and distance in our minds, doesn’t it? Like, how is my child already seven? We just moved, how are we already talking about moving again? Thank goodness for social media keeping tabs on the years for me — it adds a healthy dose of perspective to someone like me who feels like everything just happened.

Just this week, I vocalized this to a cashier at our current location in Japan. The cashier casually asked me how long I’ve lived here.

I replied with my scripted, “We just got here in June.” But really, I can’t say “just” anymore. We’ve been here a year, even though I still feel new, which I explained to her.

She replied, “Honey, we all still feel new.”

Mind. Blown.

Not only did she put into perspective that the newness never really wears off overseas orders, but that the newness never really feels like it falls away from military life — we never completely have it figured out because it’s always changing just enough — with a PCS or deployment or new job — to keep us on our toes and keep us feeling new.

Looking back, there weren’t really signs that the seasoned transition was happening; I never picked up on them if they were there. I didn’t get an orientation or a merit badge — not even a standard DoD email. It was more of a “Poof! You’re seasoned now.” It was an abrupt change, like a PCS or a deployment with minimal details — there one day, gone the next.

But, I do find lately that I’m more commonly the token seasoned spouse in a room of youngsters. I’ll be holding my own in a conversation until they start talking about going out together after a squadron event. After this? Yeah, after this I’m going home because babysitters make more money than I do and I’m exhausted.

I feel a little bit pressured to say profound things that will serve as their military spouse mantra for years to come. Meanwhile, I’m still doling out blank stares when asked what about my husband’s job at the squadron (although, I have made it a point to learn that this time around). Perhaps the balance keeps the few pearls of wisdom I can offer from sounding preachy — totally intentional, you guys.

I still ask questions, and I still need advice. I still learn something new about base life or military life nearly every day, but I am now trying to balance that with a goal to learn the names of the Marines and spouses from my husband’s shop and volunteer more in the squadron.

Most of all, in my military spouse tenure, I want to avoid going from seasoned to salty. We run the risk of becoming burnt out with volunteering and moving and separations and sacrifice. What I hope to provide for this up-and-coming generation of military spouses is a positive image of a seasoned spouse — one who is relatable and approachable, one who doesn’t wear rank, one who is ready to support, volunteer and lift others up.

In my days as a newbie spouse (not just when I thought I was still one), I had some incredible seasoned spouses leading the way. It’s an inspiring legacy to follow, and I am humbled to carry the torch for a little while.

Celebrating MilSpouses

 Posted by on May 8, 2018 at 13:54
May 082018
 

Like me, many of you may have assumed that Military Spouse Day (May 11) is meant to celebrate your husband or wife who serves in the military. To my surprise, my husband told me that it’s to honor me – his military spouse! MilSpouses often don’t think of themselves; we just do what needs to be done and keep moving forward. This day is to appreciate all the doers and homefront heroes that encourage each other and support their spouses.

Kelly

MilSpouses are incredibly important for the military community because they’re critical to the continued functioning and success of many military personnel. It is their constant love and support that keeps things running at home during deployments, helps moves go smoothly, and often helps other spouses and families adjust to military life and new surroundings. We do all this with love and enthusiasm – most of the time. Seriously though, part of being a military spouse is supporting your service member through not only the regular rigors of marriage but also through the unique challenges military life can bring. For this, MilSpouses deserve a day, at least, to be appreciated and to show themselves a little love.

To further acknowledge this day, you can create some of your own traditions that your spouse does for you, or that you can do for yourself. After all, since it always falls on a Friday, you have an entire weekend to celebrate! Here are a few ideas to try:

  • A weekend away. A day at the spa, anyone?
  • A celebratory dinner. Date night is always a great way to say thank you – whether you go out or cook and stay in.
  • A video. Record significant moments where your spouse’s support was particularly impactful on you and/or the kids.
  • A gift. Cards, flowers, foot massages – the possibilities are endless.
  • A guy’s weekend. Male military spouses, I haven’t forgotten about you! Send him off for weekend full of pizza and without the honey-do-list.

If you are a military spouse, don’t forget to acknowledge and love yourself on this day. Thank yourself for your contributions and then thank your service member for theirs, too. It’s a journey taken together, after all.  The appreciation goes both ways!

Spread the Love

 Posted by on February 12, 2018 at 16:35
Feb 122018
 

Love is in the air! While social media gives us all an opportunity to keep in touch and check in with our loved ones, it doesn’t always allow us to truly show love to our friends and family. A little extra effort can go a long way with the people you love, and small acts of affection throughout the year can have a huge impact!

Julie

  • For Your Military “Framily”: Many military friendships are known for their deep, shared understanding of military life, its challenges and rewards. These relationships can endure years of long distance, and when you next connect it’s as if no time or distance has passed.
    • Handwrite a note. Using pen and paper can convey more than a text, social media post or email. For better or worse, your handwriting has your essence, effort and emotion etched into it. You’ll be amazed at the reaction it will evoke in your friends.
    • Chat it up. If leave and savings don’t allow you to see one another in person, schedule a time to enjoy coffee and a video chat remotely.
    • Phone a friend. I know, I’m not a phone person either. But, the inflections of a dear friend’s voice and the joy their laughter brings is more than an LOL will ever convey.
  • For Your Extended Family: Keep family close, or mend fences, by thanking them for how they have helped/supported you through the years.
    • Send a thank you card. Handwrite a short note to thank a family member for something they did that helped you when you were growing up (or something recent). Gratitude is powerful. Use it early and often.
    • Phone home. Those who nurtured us deserve time in our current lives and gratitude for all they did. Set up a weekly call (it can be brief) and catch up with how everyone. You can make this a video call if you both have that capability.
  • For Your Children: Kids don’t always know how we feel, even though we think they should. Try a few of these ideas to remind them how very loved they are.
    • Hide love-you notes. Use 3×5 cards to write one thing (per card) that you love about your child. Fold it and put their name on the outside. Tuck the note in their bathroom mirror, sock drawer or in their shoe.
    • Snail mail. Kids love getting mail. It makes them feel special. Write a letter that tells them what makes them unique or what you truly appreciate about them. Share something about your childhood that they didn’t already know.
    • Send them on a scavenger hunt. Your handwritten clues should lead your child to a hidden envelope with an invitation for a date with you (movies, bowling, etc.). Kids value time with you more than most other things.
  • For Your Significant Other: Sometimes we neglect the ones closest to us as we tend to our children, home, work, etc. It’s important to remember that our first loves need some attention, too.
    • Grab a pad of sticky notes and write what you love about your significant other. Stick the notes on the bathroom mirror, microwave, coffee maker, briefcase, steering wheel, etc.
    • Dial their number. Call your significant other and ask them out on a date. Bonus points if you refrain from using your phones while you’re out!
    • Exchange love letters. Start writing and mailing love letters to one another. Sometimes it’s easier to express yourself in writing than words.

Going the extra mile to make personal connections with the people you love the most can be so valuable. Who will you take the extra step to connect with this year?

Keeping the Spark Alive

 Posted by on February 5, 2018 at 09:00
Feb 052018
 

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I find this is a perfect time to make sure my connection with my hubby is going strong. In this fast-paced military life, there are plenty of lengthy absences and stressors that can take a toll on our relationships. Our spouses are called upon to do whatever is needed at the drop of a hat, and that can mean that sometimes they leave without a lot of notice. I read an article once where the wife of an officer said that in their two-decade marriage, they had been apart more days than together. That’s crazy!

Lee-Anne

Marriage is hard. It takes hard work and dedication to keep it together, and even more work to make it great. Kids, jobs, finances, health…all of this can play a significant role in the well-being of your marriage. Now – add the complication of doing it from different continents, and you have some serious hurdles to overcome! Here are some tips for making sure your spark stays strong during a deployment.

  1. Communication is important. While my husband was recently deployed, we texted daily (except when he was in the field), spoke on the phone a few times a week and video chatted several times a month. I also sent him both hand-written letters and emails. I started keeping a list of things to talk about so that I didn’t forget them when he called. Nothing is worse than feeling like communication is obligatory, so I would try my best to keep it interesting and funny. Occasionally I would have to vent about something or tell him about the broken water heater, but I usually tried to handle that stuff myself and focus our conversations on light-hearted things. My husband is a fixer and nothing stresses him out more than when I have a problem and he can’t do anything about it. I wanted to reduce unnecessary stress for him as best as I could.
  2. Build more trust. You can never have too much mutual trust in a relationship. I trust my husband to have my back in a disagreement with someone else and to share my burdens. We may let each other down here or there, but above all else we are partners. While he was gone for a year, I trusted that he would continue to love me despite the distance and he trusted me to do the same.
  3. Nourish your connection. Our love grew stronger during my husband’s deployment. Without the option for physical connection, we talked. A lot. He told me stories that I had never heard in our 12-year marriage. I shared my career plans. I practiced really listening to make him feel valued. I admit that I can sometimes get a bit self-centered. Between my career, kids, housework and everything else going on in my life, I wasn’t always able to give my husband my full attention when he was home. Once he left, I realized how valuable that was and made every effort to fully concentrate on him when he called.
  4. Keep your romance alive. A lot of this is going to depend on your comfort level but try to make things fun. Think about buying a new outfit for his return or writing an email to express your excitement about having your spouse back in your arms. Without oversharing what you don’t want the world to see or hear about, convey the essence of your desire for a physical connection through phone calls or letters. Be creative, it can be a lot of fun.
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